Four of the six people indicted in what is being called the biggest human trafficking case in US history have turned themselves in, or are scheduled to surrender by early this week.
Israeli national Mordechai Orian, 45, surrendered to authorities in Honolulu on Friday. Orian is the CEO and president of LA-based labor recruiting agency, Global Horizons Manpower. The agency is accused of trafficking 400 Thai nationals into US farms where they were saddled with enormous recruitment fees (as high as $17,000) and laboring in conditions of slavery—unable to escape, and forced to work under threats. Mordechai entered a plea of “not guilty” in federal court.
On Thursday, Orian’s public relations adviser, Kara Lujan, was asked by her client to conduct negotiations with the FBI for his surrender. She said Federal agents agreed to a surrender in Hawaii on the condition that they would be shown an airplane ticket to the state. She said he landed in Honolulu and took a taxi to his lawyer’s office, where FBI representatives were waiting, as agreed.
…Three of his employees and two Thailand-based recruiters also were charged in an indictment announced Thursday. Orian appeared in Honolulu federal court with his ankles chained. He was represented by a court-appointed attorney based on his contention that he couldn’t afford one himself. He faces a maximum sentence of 70 years imprisonment. He was ordered deported from the United States last year, but has remained in the country during his appeal.
U.S. Attorney Susan French called Orian’s arrest a major saga because his public relations agency had told authorities varying stories that he was in Los Angeles, Texas and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Contrary to Lujan’s statement, she said they didn’t know his whereabouts until he had already caught a taxi from the Honolulu airport.
Shane Germann, a resident of North Dakota, surrendered to federal authorities in Fargo, also on Friday. Germann was an on-site manager for many of the farms where the trafficked Thai laborers were held.
Pranee Tubchumpol, the head of Global Horizons’ international relations was arrested in the LA suburb of Gardena on Thursday, and is expected to be moved to Honolulu this week.
Sam Wongsesanit of Kona, Hawaii, is scheduled to turn himself in.
The other two people indicted in this case, Ratawan Chunharutai and Podjanee Sinchai reside in Thailand, and are, according to CNN, “considered fugitives.”
Meanwhile, Crooks & Liars reports that Mordechai Orian is a regular contributor to the republican party. And, Care2 found reports that Orian has cast himself as a “moral crusader against illegal immigration.”